Last week I attended the Great Minnesota Blog Together, a blogger preview event at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and it was a blast! Basically, a bunch of other local bloggers and I got to indulge in greasy, not-so-good-for-you-but-oh-so-tasty new foods being offered at the Fair, learn about some new shopping choices firsthand from some fun new vendors, and then chat and take lots of pictures.
You’re probably especially wondering about these new foods. Well let me share these with you.
New Foods at the Minnesota State Fair 2016
We got to try six new foods – Cheesy French Onion Monkey Break, Grilled Cheese Bites, Minnesnowii Shave Ice, Minnesota Corn Dog, Rustic Beef Pastry and Tot Boss.
Here are my thoughts.
Minnesota Corn Dog – available from Gass Station Grill
Where: On the west side of Cooper Street between Dan Patch and Judson avenues, outside the southeast corner of the Food Building
This was my FAVORITE. I took one bite and was hooked. This unique corn dog is “custom ground sausage on-a-stick made with blueberries, apples, wild rice, maple syrup and cayenne dipped in a homemade corndog batter and deep-fried.” You may think “all that in a corn dog?” but seriously, it works. It was sweet and savory – not your typical corn dog. And it needed no ketchup. Seriously – get one of these.
Cheese French Onion Monkey Bread from Blue Moon Dine-In Theater
Where: On the northeast corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street
This is a savory, pull-apart artisan bread loaf filled with caramelized onions, cheese and beef broth. Then it’s baked in a wood-fired oven.
This was a bit dry for me, but as Gianna from Family Fun Twin Cities says (we sat next to each other!), eat it warm. Ours had gotten cold but you can tell that when it’s fresh it’s soft and more flavorful.
Minnesnowii Shave Ice from Minnesnowii Shave Ice
Where: Located at West End Market, south section
This is 100% sweetened condensed milk drizzled over your choice of flavored shave ice. It comes in Maple Bacon, Root Beer, Strawberry and Orange flavors – all of which were better and creamier than I expected. I can’t pick a favorite. Just try one. But they melt fast so eat it quick!
Tot Boss from new vendor, Tot Boss
Where: Look for the food truck on the east side of Underwood Street between Wright and Dan Patch avenues, south of Kidway.
Tator tots taken to the next level. Here I am with Dan, the Tot Boss himself, who’s as fun and likable as he appears – and really makes a GOOD tator tot dish. We tried the Loaded Tots and and Tater Tot Nachos. Definitely a good, filling treat (so make room in your stomach for ’em!), and even available in gluten-free!
Rustic Beef Pastry from French Meadow Bakery & Cafe
Where: On the east side of Underwood Street between Wright and Dan Patch avenues, south of Kidway
This was a slightly spicy beef pastry that you can feel good enjoying. From the first certified organic bakery in the U.S.A., this is “Moroccan-spiced, grass-fed beef and baby spinach topped with creamy goat cheese and nestled in a flakey butter crust.” I liked the taste, but it was a bit dry for me – I know others loved it though.
Grilled Cheese Bites from O’Gara’s at the Fair
Ooey, gooey goodness. These are made with white cheddar cheese, which is blended with beer batter, cubed and then deep fried. It’s served with a bloody mary mix marinara. It taste a little bit like a grilled cheese sandwich, but more savory and flavorful. I liked these, and wonder why someone hasn’t come up with the bloody mary marinara idea sooner.
Shopping at the State Fair
Ok, on to the shopping. First we learned about shopping at the Fair from the expert – Pam Simon, Concessions & Exhibits Manager. I had no idea how much shopping the fair has to offer for everyone – some vendors make the majority of their income from the Fair alone, and some shoppers do actually quite a bit of their shopping, even back-to-school shopping here. It’s worth checking into what you can find at the Fair – there might be something you’re looking for or wish you knew about sooner! Though I like to find the deals (I’ve already got my Blue Ribbon Bargain Book – I highly recommend these!), I also recommend setting aside some dollars for unexpected finds if you can.
Then five vendors each gave us a little overview of their business and what products they sell.
Holly House Boutique – This is a seasonal boutique, open in Apple Valley in November and December. New to the Fair, they offer handmade items from local artisans including solid bird seed feeders, tea towels (with cute sayings like “I Make a Killer Tator Tot Hotdish”), pillows, slippers and even wine barrel art.
DEALS: Get $2 off Snoozies Slippers (regularly $14.99) on Military Appreciation Day, Seniors Day and Thrifty Thursday!
Located at Grandstand, upper level, east section
Wish Boutique – Owned by Kris Swensen and Marci Plomski, you can find their store in Rosemount (and order online). They offer really unique and stylish clothes and accessories here – my favorite (and the favorite of many) are the neat tops/tanks (Mama Needs a Cocktail) and the mixed-material reversible skirts (which are around $80). I’m getting myself some of these!
Located at Grandstand, upper level, center
I like you – Locally made items by Minnesota artists and crafters, and owned by these fun ladies, Sarah Sweet and Angela Lessman.
Get the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book for a coupon! Buy any two T-shirts and get the third FREE or$6 off one awesome T-shirt, tank or onesie (must use coupon).
Located at West End Market, northwest section.
Birchberry Native Arts and Food – Heidi Grika, owner, showed us some of the White Earth Tribe inspired coats, mittens, blankets, jams, jellies, and other local gift items here.
Located in the International Bazaar, southwest section.
Machine Age Lamps – This is a place to find really unique items, owned by Shawn Carling (who couldn’t be here but called in to talk about his shop). You’ve GOT to check this place out. Though the items can be pricey (in the $ hundreds), you won’t find these kinds of items anywhere else. They salvage early American factory parts to make lamps, tables and other items.
Located at West End Market, southeast section
Are you intrigued by what you can find at the Fair?
I can’t WAIT to see more of what they offer! The Minnesota State Fair runs August 25 – September 5.
Read my guide, How to Save Money at the Fair.
Be sure to also read these other great bloggers’ reviews: